Act manslaughter and Gross negligence manslaughter

During this short essay the principles of causation, Unlawful and dangerous Act manslaughter and Gross negligence manslaughter will be discussed in detail Causation The first area of law this question concerns is causation. In result crimes it must be shown further to the defendant performing a certain act, that act had a particular consequence. In this case it must be proven that there was a continuous unbroken chain of causation between Rogers act and Steve's death. With causation two basic principles are applied.

The accused can only be convicted if he is both a Factual ('but for') cause and a Legal cause. Dealing with factual (sine qua non) causation, it is a question for the jury to decide 'but for' D's unlawful actions would the harm have occurred at the same time and in the same way that it did? 1. However where the death would have occurred regardless of D's act; D is not a factual cause of the death2. It would be quite straightforward to establish that Roger has factual causation because 'but for' his attack Steve would not died.

Legal causation means establishing that D's conduct was the 'operating and substantial' cause of V's harm or death3, i. e. that it contributed to a 'significant' extent4. In this case it would have to be proven that Steve's heart failure was the 'operating and substantial' cause of death. The prosecution would also point out that D takes his victim as he finds them applying the 'Thin Skull Rule'5. However, the defence would argue that there was there a 'novus actus The definition6 is a free voluntary act of a third party which renders the original act no longer the 'operating and substantial' cause of the result7.

Roger will argue that Steve's escape attempt broke the chain of causation. However it was established in R v Roberts8 that escape attempts will not break the chain provided that it "could reasonably have been foreseen as the consequence of D's action"9. Roberts was approved in R v Williams and R v Davis10 (CA) where it was held that "the jury should bear in mind any particular characteristic of the victim and the fact that in the agony of the moment he may act without thought or deliberation. "

It would appear Steve's reaction in jumping over the wall was within a range of responses that was reasonably foreseeable. However the threat level would need to be examined in more detail. The word 'attack' in its grammatical context could mean a verbal or physical attack; so for e. g. would jumping over the wall in reaction to a verbal tirade be reasonably foreseeable? Further still Roger will argue that Dr Martin's negligence constituted a novus actus interveniens as in R v Jordan11 where the medical treatment was 'palpably wrong'.

However this is rare and negligent treatment will not break the chain of causation12 unless "the treatment was so independent of his acts (D's), and in itself so potent in causing death, that they regard the contribution made his acts as insignificant"13. This affirmed the decision in R v Smith14 where Lord Parker CJ explained "only if it can be said that the original wounding is merely a setting in which another cause operate can it be said that the death does not result from the wound. " There is strong prima facie to suggest that Dr Martin's treatment has not broken the chain.

Steve died of heart failure which was the operating and substantial cause of death. Dr Martin's failure to read the notes constitutes an omission, and it is submitted that omissions of a third party cannot break the chain of causation15. Unlawful and Dangerous Act Manslaughter If it is found that Roger has caused Steve's death, then the second area of law that this question concerns is that of Unlawful and Dangerous Act Manslaughter (UDAM). In cases such as this where D lacks the mens rea for murder, the murder charge is substituted with one of involuntary manslaughter.

Roger will most likely be charged with UDA/Constructive manslaughter; the term indicating that the crime is constructed from liability for a lesser crime16. The HL undertook a thorough examination of UDAM in Attorney-General's Reference (No. 3 of 1994) [1998] AC 245 (HL), in which Lord Hope of Craighead summarised the essential elements as this "The only questions which need to be addressed are (1) whether the act was done intentionally, (2) whether it was unlawful, (3) whether it was also dangerous because it was likely to cause harm to somebody and (4) whether that unlawful and dangerous act caused death.

" The first point seems to require only that D's conduct was 'voluntary and deliberate'. There is no reason to suggest Roger was acting in any other way than voluntary and deliberate; he therefore satisfies the first test. 15. as explained by Herring pg 111 16. as explained by Herring pg 275. Secondly the unlawful act must be a crime17. It is not enough for the act to be a tort as in R v Franklin18 "the unlawful act must be a crime19" and the prosecution must show that D had the actus reus and mens rea20.

However offences against property will suffice21. Lastly a criminal omission, however deliberate will not satisfy the second test; there must be an act22. In this case the unlawful act will be presented as a technical assault or battery. The definition of assault is 'any act by which D intentionally or recklessly causes V to apprehend immediate and unlawful personal violence' as in Fagan v Metropolitan Police Commission23. The definition of a battery is 'any act by which D intentionally or recklessly inflicts unlawful personal violence upon.

' If Roger's attack was verbal only it could still constitute a technical assault and would depend on Steve's state of mind25. The decision in R v Ireland26 also makes it clear that words alone can constitute an assault. The fact that Steve tried to escape would suggest that he did fear immediate unlawful personal violence and if Roger intended this, then he guilty of the crime of assault; or assault and battery if he inflicted unlawful personal violence on Steve; this would include mere touching.